7 Winter Life Hacks to Keep You Warm

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About: My name is Jason Poel Smith. In my free time, I am an Inventor, Maker, Hacker, Tinker, and all around Mad Genius

It can be hard to stay warm when the temperature outside drops to -20ºF. So here are a few simple life hacks that can help keep you a little warmer this winter. 

Step 1: Automate Your Coffee Maker

There are a lot of appliances that you can automate with a simple outlet timer. One of these is a coffee maker. All you have to do is fill your coffee maker with water and grounds and set the timer for 15 minutes before you wake up. Then you can enjoy a nice hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning. 

You can also use your automated coffee maker to prepare, hot chocolate, oatmeal, ramen, or soup. The only difference is that you will want to put your ingredients in the pot instead of in the filter. 

Unfortunately this will not work with all coffee makers. Make models will not turn on automatically when plugged in. For best results use a basic coffee maker without any control circuits. 

Step 2: Use Ice to Trick the Thermostat

If you live or work in a building where the thermostat is locked and you can't change the setting, you may be able to trick the thermostat into turning on the heat. 

A thermostat only senses the temperature around the thermostat itself. This is one reason why different parts of a building are often different temperatures. So if you put ice near the thermostat, it will think that the room is colder than it really is and turn on the heater.

WARNING: Do not put an ice cube on the thermostat. Do not do anything that will get moisture in the thermostat. This can cause it to short out and break. Then you will freeze to death and it will be your fault. 

Step 3: Prewarmed Bed

There is nothing like climbing into a warm bed at the end a cold day. So when you are getting ready for bed put an electric blanket under the covers and turn it on low. That way when you go to get into bed it is already warm. 

Always be aware of any potential fire risks when working with an electric heater and be safe.

Step 4: Prewarmed Clothes

If you know what clothes you will be wearing the next day, place then in your dresser and put an electric blanket on top of them. As soon as you wake up, turn it on. This works best if you can reach the control without getting out of bed. Then when you get up and go to get dressed, your clothes will be warm like they just came out of the drier.

If you have an electric blanket that turns on automatically when you plug it in, then you can set it up with an outlet timer to have it pre-warming before your alarm goes off. But as always, be careful to avoid any potential fire risks.

Step 5: Let a Hot Shower Warm and Humidify Your House

When you take a hot bath or shower, don't drain the water. The water has a lot of heat that would just be going down the drain. Let the water sit and cool to room temperature first. That way all the heat stays in your house and the hot water will help to humidify the dry air in your house. 

Step 6: Use Pipe Insulation to Fill Gaps Below Doors

One problem that is often encountered with older houses is large gaps under the doors. This can result is unwanted drafts. They sell products such as "draft blockers" to fill in these gaps. But why pay $10 for a small piece of shaped foam. You can get similar results from a piece of pipe insulation. Just open it up and wrap it around the bottom of the door. It should tightly seal the bottom of the doorway and prevent drafts. 

Step 7: Dead Battery Hand Warmer

Alkaline batteries will usually stop being able to power your electronics long before they are empty. One way to use that last bit of energy is as a hand warmer.

Once your battery is mostly dead, use a 1 ohm resistor (or an equivalent length of wire with at least 1 ohm of resistance) to bridge the terminals. This will slowly drain out the last of the stored energy and release it as heat. This can make a very low powered hand warmer. It won't make a lot of heat, but every bit helps. 


Safety Warnings:
Only use alkaline batteries. Never use other battery types. Lithium batteries can actually explode if they are discharged too quickly. 

Only do this with 1.5V batteries. Never use higher voltages such as 9V or 12V.

Only do this with batteries that are mostly dead. If you use a fresh battery, It will release much more heat and could burn up the resistor and burn your hand. For new batteries you would need to use a 10 ohm resistor.

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85 Discussions

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YOUTUBEFREEKYOYO

Tip 4 weeks ago

dont have resistors? use aluminum foil to wrap the battery!

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ggallen103

3 years ago

You forgot to mention - ceiling fans - make sure they are turning the correct direction for the season. For Winter you want the air to blow down, For Summer you the air to blow up. I also forget which direction is which - but one tip I saw on you tube, once you find the right direction for down, take a sharpie and write W and S on the proper sides of the switch - so there is no more guessing each season!

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KellyCraigggallen103

Reply 3 months ago

I find the debate about air movement just short of comical. If the fan draws air up, the air already there would have to move elsewhere. As such, the mere fact there is air movement should be the critical issue.

In my shop, I direct one fan to the ceiling and the air it forces to the ceiling moves the air already there about the shop. Without it, the upper area is notably warmer, so that heated air has to be going somewhere.

Of course, there is the issue of having air blow directly on you, but in each house I've lived in, the fans were situated in locations that made this a non-issue.

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RaceBggallen103

Reply 3 years ago

Everyone has already told you why this is wrong. Hopefully you can see that they are correct. I just can't believe you wouldn't want your fan ON you in the summer. Seems a little odd.

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ggallen103RaceB

Reply 3 years ago

not odd - use a ceiling fan to move the air to your level - then use a floor fan to direct it at you - the floor fan can you more breeze without that annoying tick, tick, tick, tick as the metal chains bounce off the light fixture. - as I replied down the thread as well - for ME, the wrong way works best - to each their own.

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skiwolf9ggallen103

Reply 3 years ago

Wrong, you want the air to suck up to the ceiling in winter to blow the hot air from the ceiling down. http://www.hansenwholesale.com/ceilingfans/fan-direction-summer-winter.asp

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ggallen103skiwolf9

Reply 3 years ago

The push warm air down, pull cool air up - always works best for me. But either way - whichever direction works best for you - that's the direction you want - marking it on the fan makes it easier - no more guessing. IMO if you pull cool air up hoping to force the warm air out - it will travel along the ceiling to the walls then fall, while giving a chilled feeling in the center where the cooler air is being sucked up - but as I said - set it to the direction that works best for your room - some rooms may behave differently depending on ceiling height, size of the room and the power and size of the fan blades.

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mpettit & gzuckier have it right. Anything that mixes warm air (which tends to rise in the absence of mixing) with colder air (which tends to sink) helps to warm the room AND prevent even greater loss of heat through the roof. But as long as the air in your house is below body temperature, moving air will tend to make you feel colder. In most cases, blowing air UPWARD will cause less "wind chill" at floor level, so that's best for WINTER (combined with a low speed fan setting). In summer, you WANT the cooling effect of moving air, so you set the fan to blow DOWN, and on a HIGH speed setting.

(In summer, there is a competing effect to consider. In all cases, but especially if your attic is poorly insulated, the ceilings of rooms immediately below the attic will get hot. The more you move the air in those rooms around, the more you promote heating of the room air by the hot ceiling. In my house, I have a tile roof, good insulation, and mainly just bedrooms on the upper floor. So on hot days, by the time the upstairs ceilings get very warm, the outside air is starting to cool down, so I start bringing outside air into the house (and of course my attic fan has kicked in, too, and that helps. But if your daytime living spaces are just below the attic, you need to consider whether circulating air is better or worse than allowing it to stratify.)

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mpettitggallen103

Reply 3 years ago

This is a common misconception. Just having fans on is good enough. You just want to break up any stratification in your room's air, make sure you don't have cool spots and warm spots. Really, it doesn't matter which way the blades turn, so long as they turn slowly in the winter - a fast fan makes a draft that might make you feel chilled.

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oldfatnbrokempettit

Reply 3 years ago

I have to disagree, when I am hot and sweating I want the fan blowing directly on me to evaporate the sweat faster which makes it feel cooler. In the winter I have the fan running as slow as possible pushing the air towards the ceiling which pushes the warm air down around me and I don't feel as much of a draft that would make me feel cooler.

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gzuckiermpettit

Reply 3 years ago

I actually decided to quantify the effect; in a room that's about 12 by 12 with a ceiling that's 13 feet high at one end slanting down to 8 at the other, with the fan set to winter mode (blows up in the center, air comes down around the edges of the room) having the fan on would actually raise the temp at sitting height a couple of degrees, but it felt cooler, because of the moving air, even though it was not a direct draft. So I set the fan to move the air when I'm not in the room, but turn it off when I am.

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KellyCraig

3 months ago on Step 6

Just keep in mind, doors have gaps to allow air movement for heating and cooling. Normally, the only doors that fit tight around all four edges are doors going to the exterior.

If your furnace return were in a room with the door sealed and the room had no vent, the furnace wouldn't be able to transfer air throughout the home. And, of course, if the room had a vent to allow air to return to the furnace, there would be no gain in sealing the door.

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HollyMann

2 years ago

Wow. I love your tips here. Also, I like your voice. I would have never really thought of leaving the bath water in to utilize the extra heat. I live in IL and have lived in WI most of my life - and I'm starting to think about these things now. It seems like fall is non-existent and we move from summer to winter in a blink of an eye! Another thing you can use besides the electric heating pad, is a rice pack heating pad. I made an Instructable on how to make them. The other day I accidentally did something to mine - dropped it in the toilet. :((( It was horrible! lol....so I am about to make a few more of them. They are filled with plain white rice and you just heat it up in the microwave for about 30 sec. to a minute. They help me a lot with stomach aches too - to use it on that. Or sore muscles...but mostly, to warm up my bed or keep me warm! Thanks for the Instructable and tips!

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Charley 68

3 years ago

You forgot one very important tip. Stay inside with the heat on! ;)

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Daisydo

3 years ago

Here are some no-electricity- required hacks I've been using to feel a little warmer at home:
Layers! Not only is this a great idea for clothing, but also for blankets. I've got 3 on my bed now. And it's easily adjustable, if you feel too warm, just fold the top blanket down.
Let your pets sleep with you. Our tiny chihuahua is happy to get under the blankets with us and her body heat warms us up quickly.
And lastly, rather than mess with the heating pad, I warm my 5 year olds clothes with my butt. Let me explain, I pull out her clothes for the day (layers again) and I stack them in order of which piece goes on first, to last..then I sit on the stack and let her stay under the blankets while I dress her. The clothes warm up fast and there's no fire hazard to worry about. Hahaha.

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nidsyzDaisydo

Reply 3 years ago

Hahaha! Very well thought oout ;) XD

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SusannePrB

3 years ago

Really cool ideas. Will use them all <3

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SteveMann

3 years ago

The bath tub is an excellent idea: keep the water in the house until it has expelled most of its heat. If you have small children, make sure to lock the bathroom door so they don't wander into the bathroom and fall into the tub.

There's a lot of heat in bathwater and it is nice to recover it into the house.

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stevenvu2011

3 years ago

I feel compelled to warn everyone: please do not use the thermostat "trick!" The condensation from extremely cold objects placed on top of the thermostat, as in the picture, will drip (in liquid form or as water vapor) due to gravity. This eventually results in rapid corrosion of delicate electrical components within the thermostat, as they were likely not speced to handle that much moisture. That will cause a short just as an ice cube would, only over a longer period of time.